Monday, May 28, 2012

Managing Expectations

goofy pre-race pose
Memorial Day, for the third year in a row, means it's time for the Cotton Row 10K Race.  This is the only 10K race I've ever done (not including the 10K at the end of a triathlon).   Today wasn't a race though...I should really just call it a 10K event. 

Hold on...let me start by saying I feel "good" about today's results.  I mean I don't like what happened, but it's what I expected.  I got exactly the result I should have gotten for the training effort, planning and mental preparations I put forth.  Could I have done better?  Yes, I'm sure I could have.  How do I know?  I was talking and laughing the whole time.  I wasn't struggling most of the time.  I was very relaxed.  I left the race thinking I could probably go run another 10 miles fairly easily.  I came home, weeded the flower beds, mowed the lawn and didn't even feel like I had really worked out.  Did I get what I planned for?  Yes.  My plan was to keep my heart rate right at 170 the whole time (except for climbing Mountainwood), and I did just that. 

This is the third year I've run this course with out a strategy.  Not again.  Next year I will have a plan for how I want to RACE this event!  I know the course, I know how I run it.  I will prepare and I will blow my time out of the water.  Mark my words.

But...back to the race...I had a sinus infection all last week.  I finally went to the doctor and got a steroid shot and some meds on Thursday.  That would have been bad enough, but I woke up this morning with a rolling stomach.  Reading last year's recap, I see that was the case then, too, but I think for very different reasons.  Last year I attributed my stomach issues to nerves.  I can remember getting ready for the race the night before and being so anxious.  This year, I actually forgot to pick up my packet!  I went this morning to get it and ended up helping out because there was only one guy trying to get packets and tshirts for a growing number of participants!

Can you spot me?
After I left packet pick up I went to meet a friend of mine to warm up a bit.  I think we did about a half mile or so.  This is the first race I have ever done that I did not use the bathroom at the race site!!  I thought about it just before they started pre-race announcements, but by then it was too late.  I didn't really have to go, I just thought I should since I usually go at least twice before gun time!  The friend I warmed up with runs a lot faster than I do.  She wanted to run with someone, but I knew I wasn't going to be able to keep up with her so I told her she didn't need to wait on me. 

Looking back on it, there's a SLIM chance I might have been able to hang on to her but it would have hurt and I hadn't planned to, or expected to, hurt today.  I "wanted" to break an hour, but I also knew I had not been running a lot lately, I hadn't planned or trained, I hadn't prepared mentally...I hadn't made the "training deposits" necessary in order to expect to be able to make a "race withdrawal" in the amount of a sub-60:00 Cotton Row 10K!

I think part of why I get so upset with my results is that no matter what kind of training I have done, no matter what kind of preparations I have made, and no matter what I am mentally ready for, I expect to have a different outcome than what matches with reality.

Let me try to explain something I haven't quite put my finger on just yet...

Last year I didn't train to race a 10K, certainly not Cotton Row (it's not an easy course).  Somehow I expected to break an hour out of sheer will.  I had run a sub-30 5K but really beyond that I didn't have any training that would warrant realistically expecting a sub-60 Cotton Row result and yet, I did.  I hadn't planned mentally, I didn't have a race strategy, I just thought I could go run and get to the finish in under an hour.  My blog post says I was happy with the result, but that's not the way I remember it.  I remember feeling mostly okay at the finish, disappointed, but okay.  But as time went on, I was more and more upset over that stinking 24 seconds...thinking about all of the things I could have done on race day to have had a better outcome.

I have noticed that I go into races with a certain set of stated expectations, and another set of unspoken ones.  I may meet my stated expectations (which usually match up with reality fairly well), but when I don't meet my unspoken set of desires for myself I am upset (if you know me you know that's the case pretty much all the time).

right before I tossed my water bottle
I honestly think today is the first time both sets of expectations matched...not only each other but also with reality.  I wanted to break an hour, but I didn't think that was realistic, all things considered.  Could I have done it?  Sure...I was only 20 seconds off.  There are any number of things I could have done differently.  Am I upset that didn't happen? can I be?  I did what I did, there's no reason to be upset.  I truly feel like I got out what I put in.  I didn't train, I didn't plan, I didn't prepare, I didn't meet my hope of breaking an hour.  I also didn't hurt, I didn't ever think I couldn't finish.  I didn't ever want to quit.  I felt great the whole time.  (Well...there was one time I didn't feel great...I was carrying a water bottle I barely used.  As soon as I tossed it to my sweet husband at mile 5ish my mouth went completely dry and cottony...I almost panicked, but realized very quickly that was silly and stopped that nonsense!)

I will say as soon as I finished the race and realized I missed breaking an hour by 20 seconds I was VERY UPSET....but only for a few minutes.  After I thought about it I decided there was no reason for those feelings.  I had a good time and my result matched what I had trained and planned for.

The key for me is to put in the training and planning...and, I'm certain I'll get exactly the result I should!

  • 2010 -- 1:18:23 (gun time) 86/100 age group and 1920/2048 overall
  • 2011 -- 1:00:24 (chip time) 39/111 age group and 930/1878 overall
  • 2012 -- 1:00:20 (chip time) 40/125 age group and 1076/2013 overall
headed to the finish line
Next up...Mach Tenn long sprint tri this coming Saturday.  I'm not sure what to expect, but I'm sure I'll have a plan!  :D

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

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